17 DECEMBER 2017


One of my favourite things about being a mother is that I get to be a role model for my children.  One of my favourite things about being a vegetarian mother is that I get to be a vegetarian role model for my children!

We can all benefit from positive role models in our lives, no matter what we’re doing, who we are or what our goals are.  When I made the decision to stop eating meat at age 12, I didn’t have any vegetarian role models to look up to.  Vegetarianism wasn’t exactly at the pinnacle of popularity in New Zealand in the 1980s.  What I did have, though, were parents who had values including standing for what you believe in and following your personal moral compass.  That my parents didn’t try to steer me away from my vegetarian ideology, even though they ate meat, helped me realise I had the power to make my own decisions and stick to them, even when I didn’t have anyone around me who shared that specific belief.

These days it’s much easier to find vegetarian role models.  You might be lucky enough to have vegetarian family or friends for you and your children to look up to.  If not, many towns have vegetarian and vegan groups where you can hang out with other like-minded people.

It’s easy to find information on the internet about famous current and past vegetarian movie stars (Woody Harrelson, Anna Paquin), singers (Paul McCartney, Ariana Grande), scientists (Albert Einstein, Jane Goodall), sports people (Venus Williams, Mike Tyson), business people (Ariana Huffington, Russell Simmons), doctors (Benjamin Spock, Deepak Chopra), politicians (Bill Clinton, Al Gore), philosophers (Aristotle, Plato), inventors (Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla), writers (George Bernard Shaw, Mary Shelley) and even cartoon characters (Huey Freeman, Lisa Simpson).  Yes, even fictional cartoon characters can be role models.

Everyone has their own reasons for being vegetarian.  In my children’s case, they were brought up eating everything except meat because that’s what I was eating.  They’ve grown up with my “do the least harm possible” philosophy, hopefully demonstrated in a thoughtful and inspiring way.

My children know, because I remind them, that they need to make their own choices as they get older.  As a parent and a role model I feel my role is to set an example by living my life in a way that feels true to me. 

There are negative role models, too, of course.  I mean, Hitler was a vegetarian.  I don’t know his reasons but they probably weren’t ethical ones. 

The point is, role models are great to have.  They’re especially helpful if you’re in a minority group.  It’s always good to see people with similar ideals to yours succeeding in life at the things you think are important.

I’m glad my children have access to so many good role models, not only in the people they meet in real life but through TV, internet, movies radio and books.  With positive people to look up to as well as the guidance of parents, teachers, family and the community, we can raise contented and happy children and make the world a better place.